The new refugee reform, which is not that new anymore, was introduced to make our refugee system faster and more efficient. It was also introduced to discourage those who, in the opinion of the Conservative government, were taking advantage of our generous refugee program. That is why the new rules were designed to allow the Refugee Protection Board, (RPD) to declare refugee claims abandoned in a matter of days, if the claimant or their counsel missed the deadlines.
What deadlines are important at this point?
A refugee is given 15 days to submit their Basic of Claim Form (BOC) after their case was referred to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Board (IRB), Refugee Protection Division (RPD) for determination. If the claimant or their counsel missed the deadline for submitting their BOC, the refugee board gives the claimant the opportunity to explain the reasons for failing to submit it and schedules a special hearing date. The deadlines for submitting a BOC and special hearing date, as well as refugee claim determination hearing are set in the beginning of the process, at the time the claim is made, and a refugee is given a package where all deadlines are written. It’s natural that some refugee claimants are overwhelmed with all the papers they receive at a time. Moreover, the majority of refugees do not speak English and along with all the emotional stress they are under for being in a foreign country, this may contribute to possibly missing the deadlines.
What should you do in a situation when you or your client misses the deadline?
You have to act quickly. You have to deliver your BOC as soon as you learn that you missed the deadline and ask the Board to consider the factors that lead to your non-compliance of the rules. It can be number of factors such as the illness of you or your counsel, loss of documents, etc.
If you missed the deadline and did not appear for the special hearing, where you have to be heard by the adjudicator regarding why you missed to submit BOC, your claim will be ruled abandoned by the refugee board. You will then have the option to request for a re-opening of the case or file an appeal of the decision to Federal Court.
It is very important when filing your request to re-open your case that you tell the truth about the reasons of your noncompliance. If you have evidence that you were sick, please provide it to the Board. Write an Affidavit detailing why you missed the deadlines. If somebody else is involved, ask him or her to write affidavits as well. If you are a refugee claimant and blame your lawyer for missing the deadlines, you can provide the Board with all details, but remember that it is you and not your counsel who is ultimately responsible for handling your case properly.